What is the significance of Wide Sargasso Sea?
Wide Sargasso Sea explores the power of relationships between men and women and discusses the themes of race, Caribbean history, and assimilation.
Now, let’s focus on Antoinette’s character development after she went to London in depth, however through a creative way.
This fanfiction writing will talk about how Antoinette does not have mentally breakdown at all. More importantly, she pretends to be madness, a means of disguise to Mrs. Poole to eventually retrieve her freedom. The story goes on when Antoinette woke up in the attic of Mr. Rochester’s Thornfield Hall:
I woke up from a nightmare that I dreamed about the death of my lovely Coco. In fear and trembling, I whispered to myself unconsciously with a broken voice: “where am I? Where is my lover?” After 3 minutes observing the room, I have no result about this location that I am staying but rather a cold and dark room with only one window left without being blocked by the cardboard. “Oh, nooo….oh God please! Where is my lover! Please don’t leave me here” I yelled at myself again with tears and hatred. After I cried, I heard footsteps from a far distance coming in my direction, I held my breath and nervously waited for the person coming.
Then, there is a loud and harsh scream coming from outside of the door: “Calm down, Antoinette. You are safe; I will bring your food shortly.”
As the door opened, a lady with an emotionless face came through my horizon. “My name is Mrs. Poole. I’m here to feed you and guard you to make sure you are happy as the command by Mr. Rochester.” Said by Mrs. Poole. I responded to her urgently: “so…where am I? Is this England?” “Yes, my dear. You must be so mad that you even forget this place is. Yes, this is England indeed!” impatiently answered by Mrs. Poole. After this brief conversation, Mrs. Poole left the room by making a harsh sound of closing the door. Then, I’m being left here again with no one in this dead room that lacks sunlight and fresh air. I was shocked by this cold fact that: Mr. Rochester has betrayed me and he left me here forever in this hell place!
With deeply sorrowing and hatred, I start to recall every moment of my love journey with him. The moment from the first time seeing he fainted in the ground to the moment, I fall in love with him with willing to offer my entire body and soul to him. I understand that everything is a lie!
From Mr. Rochester emerging to my life to the way we back to England, everything is just a dirty deception of getting my money away and force me to become mentally breakdown. I start to cry because I miss my mom, Christophine, and the people and animals in Coulirbri.
Empowering by Christophine. I suddenly have a strong notion that I cannot be a doll anymore. That is being controlled and manipulated by Mr. Rochester; I should be a free woman. However, if I want to go back to the Coulirbri to encounter “my freedom”, I must escape this place. “But how?” I whispered to myself. Then I had an idea that I could just pretend to be mad, which loosened the attention of Mrs. Poole then found a time to escape. As the plan implanted. I start to act that I cannot remember every person I know and everything I have experienced to show Mrs. Poole as a sign of mental illness. Then, I cease to become even angrier. And exhibit odd behavior every day by regular practice of screaming and cursing at Mrs. Poole.
In the night, Mrs. Poole was annoyed by my screaming and yelled at me: “Stop it, Antoinette. Just be quiet.”
Then, she went to the table and grab the alcohol to engulf greedily. A way to fall in sleep quickly to avoid my unstoppable screaming. After Mrs. Poole slept, I searched her clothes’ pockets carefully and find the key. I eagerly open the door for the first and also the last time. I see the candles outside the room and light them up and then throw them on the floor. The floor suddenly was engulfed by the fire, and then everything becomes red and hot.
When I step up into stairs to the rooftop of the house, I see the whole of England at the first time. It is so beautiful and light that made me drop my tears, and I screamed: “I finally see the freedom!” When I look further to the horizon, I saw my mom and Coco weaving their hands to me with the smile. I told myself that:
“it is time for me to relieve and reunited with them.” Like a bird flying in the sky, I swiftly jumped out of the building to embrace freedom.
For the second part of the writing, I will mainly talk about why I write about this Fanfiction paragraph. And then I will explain why the belief of Antoinette pretending to be mentally degraded in a way to retrieve her freedom is a possibility with textual evidence. First, the reason why I choose to focus on Antoinette’s character development is that I think the book lacks enough information to show the changing evolution of Antoinette when she arrived in England.
In particular, I think this is the most valuable part of the book since Antoinette broke apart mainly after coming to England.
Thus, there are more things needed to express that causes Antoinette gradually to become a person with mentally illness, or the motivation of why she became mentally degraded. For this particular part, I am interested in creating more development for Antoinette.
Also, shaping our original understanding of Antoinette. I want to express a different version of the character Antoinette by telling that she intentionally pretends to be madness as a disguise to regain her freedom. The book Wide Sargasso Sea mainly talks about Antoinette’s early life in Coulirbri and her later mentally break apart after going on a trip to England with her husband. However, if we look at this book in depth, we will feel that this book heavily stresses the relationship between control and freedom. In particular, when the book first introduces about the background of Antoinette. It shows her father is an ex-slave owner but loses his wealth later due to the Emancipation Act of 1833. Symbolically, this part reveals that the black people in Coulirbri were first being controlled by slave-owners and then being people who have freedom.
Then, if we look about the character Christophine, the book also talks about her relationship between control and freedom. In the book, Christophine told Antoinette that she has three children with different fathers. The author also implicitly reveals that each of her husbands was controlling christophine when she married at each time, but then she escapes from her husband’s control and becomes an independent woman with freedom.
Then, if we look back at the situation about Antoinette and her husband Mr. Rochester, we will find the same pattern of relationship between control and freedom. To be specific, the book indicates: “She had mounted and he went over to her. When she stretched her hand out he took it and still holding it spoke to her very earnestly.” (Rhys, 155) In this particular quote, we can see the body gestures of Antoinette and Mr. Rochester. When Antoinette has mounted, Mr. Rochester follows behind her. When Antoinette stretched her hand, Mr. Rochester closely follows to come to hold her. The line seems romantic, but the deeper intention behind it shows Mr. Rochester controls Antoinette in every element of life.
What is the significance of Wide Sargasso Sea?
Also, the author expresses another indication of the book to reveal Mr. Rochester’s control over Antoinette by stating: “There is one window high up—you cannot see out of it. My bed had doors, but they have been taken away.” (Rhys, 161) The description of the attic shows the lack of the light and outside environment, which illustrate that the attic serves as the role of a prison. Similarly, Antoinette acts as a prisoner that was forced staying in the room and was served meals regularly by Mrs. Poole. Thus, it also reveals Mr. Rochester was controlling Antoinette.
After considering the importance of the lack of freedom in Antoinette’s character, we will focus on the reason why I believe she is not having a mental breakdown. There are many sources to show that Antoinette’s mind is still clear in the attic, and she also keeps developing the way to escape the house to regain her freedom. In the book, it indicated: “when night comes, and she has had several drinks and sleeps, it is easy to take the keys, I know now here she keeps them.” (Rhys, 162)
The line talks about Antoinette finding the key for the door during Mrs. Poole falls asleep. The line indicates that her mind is clear and she also has a strong intention to know the key’s location. In a way, this is not the indication of Antoinette breaking apart. Besides, the author shows another important evidence of showing Antoinette did not have the mental illness by stating:
“The first time I did this I wanted to spit it out but managed to swallow it. When I got back into the bed I could remember more and think again.” (Rhys, 161)
I also believe this quote reveals that Antoinette did not mentally degrade. But she is trying to use liquor to help her think more and get some memory back. If a person has mentally degraded, he will not have the intention to think or to try to remember anything since he already lacks his thinking process.
Rather than possessing a mental breakdown, Antoinette is more likely to disguise herself as a person who has a mental breakdown to get the chance to escape the house, which eventually embraces the freedom. All the steps she planned and processed are in a way contribute to her final success of retrieving her freedom.
In particular, the author wrote: “I was outside holding my candle. Now at last I know why I was bought here and what I have to do.” (Rhys,171)
Specifically, this line portrays Antoinette escapes the room and decides to burn this house. As the last step to achieve her freedom. In particular, I think the word “candle” represent “the hope of the freedom” in this line since the candle lights the house to destruction, which implicitly reveals Antoinette finally destroys “her controller” and also her final relief as the death.
Overall, the book Wide Sargasso Sea has many similarities compared to the Harvest. Both books talk about the tension between control and freedom.
In conclusion, to be specific, in a parallel way, Antoinette is very similar to the character Jaya. They both were being controlled first. But they bravely went against it and finally got their peace. By doing this fanfiction writing, I practiced my creativity and critical writing. Also, I have a better understanding of the character Antoinette in the story and the deeper intention behind the story as well.
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What is the significance of Wide Sargasso Sea?